BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month

Woman on couch writing in notebook. Girl sitting on floor looking up at her.

July is Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Mental Health Awareness Month. This month is meant to promote public awareness of BIPOC mental health issues and improve access to treatment and services.

This focus on meeting the mental health needs of BIPOC communities is incredibly important. Especially considering the disproportionate prevalence of mental health issues in BIPOC populations.

Here you can see a sample of data that illustrates this:

Black/African American Community

  • Percent of African Americans with Mental Illness: 17% [Source]
  • Number of African Americans with Mental Illness: 6.8 million

Latinx/Hispanic American Community

  • Percent of Latinx/Hispanic Americans with Mental Illness: 15% [Source]
  • Number of Latinx/Hispanic Americans with Mental Illness: 8.9 million

Asian American/Pacific Islander Community

  • Percent of Asian Americans with Mental Illness: 13% [Source]
  • Number of Asian Americans with Mental Illness: 2.2 million

Native and Indigenous Communities

  • Percent of Native Americans/Alaskan Natives with Mental Illness: 23% [Source]
  • Number of Native Americans/Alaskan Natives with Mental Illness: 830,000
  • Percent of people who identify as being two or more races with mental illness: 25% [Source]
  • People who identity as being two or more races are most likely to report any mental illness within the past year than any other race/ethnic group.

These numbers speak for themselves. Yet, research has shown that BIPOC groups are:

  • Less likely to have access to mental health services
  • Less likely to seek out treatment
  • More likely to receive low or poor quality of care
  • More likely to end services early

There a several reasons for this.

  1. Systemic racism and discrimination practices have been deeply rooted in the mental health care system. This can make it significantly more difficult for BIPOC to receive treatment.
  2. Many people in marginalized communities must battle the stigma that comes with addressing mental illness. Some communities view mental illness as a personal failing or weakness rather than a real, diagnosable, and treatable condition.
  3. BIPOC have a more limited access to quality, affordable care. A lack of insurance or access to funds specifically set aside for mental wellness can be a huge barrier for many people in the BIPOC community.
  4. There is a serious lack of diversity in mental health providers. It is important for BIPOC to have a providers with similar lived experiences, and that can understand the impacts of racism on mental health.

Furthermore, this past year’s coronavirus pandemic and the intensity of the movement for racial equality means that BIPOC face increased levels of stress, anxiety, and fear. In this environment, awareness that mental illness is real and treatable is essential.

BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month is a great way to bring these issues to the forefront of our minds, but it is only the first step in the path toward mental health care equity. At EVOLVE’s Outpatient mental health clinic, we offer therapeutic support to children, families, couples, and individuals from a child-focused and person-centered, strengths-based approach. Our therapists provide mental health support through a trauma and attachment informed lens, are adoption competent, and culturally responsive.

EVOLVE continues to work towards dismantling the stigma around mental illness. We aim to create a space where quality mental health care is accessible to everyone. 

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